Protests across the world have started due to the alleged murder of George Floyd by policeman Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. The police officer was filmed with his knee in George’s neck until George Floyd died. Derek Chauvin has been charged with second degree murder, because of the outrage and the backlash from people from many different countries. George Floyd died in the same way that many black and other ethnic minorities do by the hands of the police in the United States. It also happens in the UK as well. There are many examples of police brutality leading to deaths in suspicious circumstances. On a wider note there is a massive disconnect between how black and ethnic minority people are treated and how white people are treated. A black person can be killed for very trivial things without consequence, but when a white man murders black people, he gets handcuffed and taken to prison. He might even get bought burger king. President Donald Trump has exacerbated the situation over the past four years by supporting neo Nazi’s and fascists, whilst ignoring the injustice that falls upon black and ethnic minorities in America. Any ethnic minority knows that it could be them next. They could be killed under suspicious circumstances and without video footage, justice will never be sought.
Racial discrimination affects minorities in a whole host of ways. For example, in the UK, ethnic minorities are more likely to die from Covid 19 than white people. Ethnic Minorities earn less than their white counterparts. The list goes on.
Protesting in Birmingham
In the UK black and ethnic minority people suffer similar discrimination to those in America. Even if the UK Government does not think that this is the case. A protest was organised for Birmingham, the day after a protest in London. I was torn as to whether I should go, because of Covid 19. Large gatherings could help spread the virus. I decided that this was a protest that I needed to participate in. I got on my bicycle and cycled to the city centre. I had a PPE mask, which I wore in town. Originally the protest was meant to happen in Victoria Square, but it had been moved to the bigger Centenary Square, because more people than expected had turned up. I locked my bike up and followed the masses to Centenary Square. As predicted, socially distancing was impossible, but I had to be here, with my PPE mask on.
The protest itself
Once I made it to the main square I was overwhelmed by the mass of people. I’ve been to anti-racism protests before where the crowd was mostly over 40 white people, and whilst those people should be applauded, the same faces doing the same things won’t make much of an impact. The crowd on this protest was incredibly diverse. It was mostly young people, and there was a significant amount of black and ethnic minority people. Centenary Square was full. Thousands of protesters were here. The only time that I’d seen a protest with a young a profile as this one was the Birmingham Youth Strikes for Climate earlier this year, before Covid 19 turned society upside down. The sense of solidarity was immense. I’m sure that all of the black and ethnic minority people present, like myself, have their own stories of how they faced racial discrimination.
On a number of occasions, I had tears in my eyes as I chanted along with the crowd. The crowd engaged in chanting from “Justice for George Floyd” to “I can’t breathe” and many other things beside. There were anti Boris Johnson and Donald Trump chants and chants about how the racist system must be overthrown. Many people had placards with slogans including the Black Lives Matters logo and “I Can’t Breathe”. We all took a knee on several occasions like Colin Kaepernick. Centenary Square was completely packed. After about an hour of chanting in one spot, I walked around to the other side of the Square to see what was happening there. To my surprise there were two Saxophonists engaged in a duet. Other black people who were killed by police like Breonna Taylor also had their name chanted. Worldwide pressure has meant that her death is now being investigated. I left after about two hours to return to my bicycle, whilst the protest was still going strong.
Will justice take place?
Everybody there had the shared sense that change has to happen. Change only happens when people take action. Crowds of protesters all over the world know the injustice that continues to happen. What happens next? We don’t know, but we do know that without trying, more black and ethnic minorities will be murdered without consequence. I expect that there will be more protests. Racial inequality will not go away overnight. It appears that the only reason that Derek Chauvin has been charged with second degree murder is because of the global outrage of the video. There are many black and ethnic minority people who have been murdered without receiving justice. Systemic racism has been around for centuries. We probably won’t end systemic racism, but we have to try. Ending it will be a struggle, a struggle that I will continue to be a part of.
Support Black Lives Matter
If you want to support the Black Lives Matters cause. The UK wide crowdfunder is here and the Birmingham crowdfunder. I’ve donated to both and if you can I think you should do too.
There are a variety of ways that you can support Black Lives Matter. Check out https://blacklivesmatter.com/ for more.
Whilst I find it sad and annoying that we still have to battle racism in the 21st Century, I also feel proud and inspired that so many people are willing to fight for rights and equality, despite risks to themselves from both police crackdowns and Covid-19 at this time. It’s also great to see people from so many backgrounds giving support to Black Lives Matter, and especially younger people, which gives me much hope for a future free of racism.